35% of U.S. Adults Over 20 Have Pre-Diabetes

Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, according to new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, an estimated 79 million U.S. adults have prediabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Prediabetes raises a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Diabetes affects 8.3 percent of Americans of all ages, and 11.3 percent of adults aged 20 and older, according to the National Diabetes Fact Sheet for 2011. About 27 percent of those with diabetes—7 million Americans—do not know they have the disease. Prediabetes affects 35 percent of adults aged 20 and older. [Read more…]

Alzheimer’s Disease Risk Different for Men and Women

Recent research suggests that the chances of developing Alzheimer’s Disease are different for men and women, with stroke in men and depression in women being key elements.

The research was conducted in France, among 7,000 people aged 65 and over, drawn from the general population. While none of the participants had dementia, some 40% had mild cognitive impairment. Four years later 6.5% of those displaying mild cognitive impairment had developed dementia, while no change was noted in just over half. About one third returned to normal cognitive ability.

The move from cognitive impairment to dementia however, was marked among subjects taking anticholinergic drugs for depression. A variation in the ApoE gene, a known risk factor for dementia, was also more common among those whose mild cognitive impairment progressed.

The results demonstrated that men with mild cognitive impairment were probably overweight and diabetic, and to have suffered a stroke. In fact, male stroke victims were three times as likely to progress from cognitive impairment to dementia.

Women with mild cognitive impairment had poorer general health, were disabled, and suffered from insomnia, besides having an inadequate support group. They were also unable to perform the daily tasks that would enable them to live alone without assistance. It was judged they were 3.5 times as likely to develop dementia, while those suffering from depression were twice as likely to do so. Stroke was not a risk factor for women, although there was similar rate of occurrence in men and women.

Source: Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychology, 2008; doi 10.1136/jnnp.2007.136903

Alzheimer’s Disease Connection to Stroke Explained

The risk of Alzheimer’s disease is nearly doubled among people who have had a stroke, and researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have found a process in the brain that explains the connection.

There is an increase in the production of the toxic amyloid beta (Aß) peptides after a stroke that are believed to cause Alzheimer’s disease. Results in this study showed that Aß production rises when there is an increase in production of a peptide called p25, which occurs in rodents and humans following a stroke. The Columbia team identified a pathway, known as p25/cdk5, whereby higher levels of p25 led to enhanced activity of a molecule called cdk5, which in turn led to a rise in the production of Aß

By reducing the activity of cdk5, by either an inhibitor or by genetic manipulation, lead author Karen found a decrease in Aß production in the brain, demonstrating that the p25/cdk5 pathway may be a treatment target for Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, inhibitors of cdk5 are particular candidates for therapeutic development.

"This finding connects the dots between p25 and increased production of amyloid beta, and this p25/cdk5 pathway could explain why the risk of Alzheimer’s disease is significantly higher following a stroke," said Dr. Duff, professor of pathology (in psychiatry and in the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain) at Columbia University Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. "However, we still need to verify that this pathway is actually set in motion after a stroke; right now the data is still circumstantial."

Dr. Duff’s laboratory is currently working on experiments to verify this pathway’s involvement using human post-mortem tissue of stroke patients. The specific pathway investigated was shown to be most active in young mice, as compared to older mice suggesting that p25/cdk5 may not be implicated in late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of this neurodegenerative disease.

The research was published in the March 13, 2008 issue of Neuron.

Physical Health After Age 49 Correlated to Stroke Risk

People after the age of 40 who can climb stairs, kneel, bend and lift may lower their risk of stroke by 50%.

Between 1993 and 1997 researchers checked a sample of 13,615 men and women in the UK aged between 40 and 79. Participants had not had a stroke, heart attack or cancer. They reported on their physical ability 18 months later, itemizing their ability to climb stairs, carry groceries, kneel, bend and lift. The number of strokes suffered by the group through 2005 was also noted.

Participants who scored in the top 25% on the physical function test had a 50% lower rate of stroke than participants with the lowest scores. For every 10-point increase, the mens’ risk of stroke was reduced by 19% and the women by 29%.

“People who reported better physical health had significantly lower risk of stroke”, said study author Phyo Kyaw Myint, MRCP, of the University of Cambridge. “This is independent of the known risk factors for stroke in the general population”. Myint said that people with poor physical health could represent a high risk for stroke, while pointing to other health issues such as chronic inflammation, leading to vascular disease. Increased physical activity, and eating more fruit and vegetables might also help reduce risk of stroke, he said.

What Triggers Heart Attacks and Stroke?

Strokes, heart attacks, and cardiac arrest are usually the result of cholesterol-rich plaque deposits in the arteries going to the brain and heart.
They occur, when a particular activity triggers them.

Stressful physical exertion, anger, waking up from sleep, and certain infections are some of the triggers that top the list.
While most heart patients perform each of the above activities at one point or another, knowing the triggers can help you take measures to prevent them or control their intensity when they occur.

In Latest Robotics, New Hope for Stroke Patients

A new robotic device called the Myomo e100, IS designed to help stroke patients regain motion in their arms.

The device, worn as an arm brace, works by sensing weak electrical activity in patients’ arm muscles and providing just enough assistance that they can complete simple exercises, like lifting boxes or flipping on light switches. By practicing such tasks, patients may begin to relearn how to extend and flex the arm, rebuilding and strengthening neurological pathways in the process.

“The device is designed to help get patients over a functional hump” so they can start moving the weakened arm again, said John McBean, a mechanical engineer who developed the technology with Kailas Narendran, an electrical engineer and computer scientist. (The two began the project in 2002, in a graduate robotics class at M.I.T.)

Source: NYT